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Get your name out there! Marketing tips from Valerie Bowman

Posted by on Apr 16 2013, 7:55 am

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Many people think writers spend their days and nights typing away on their keyboard, creating fabulous characters, angsting over plot twists or (heaven forbid) bouts of writer’s block. And yes, this description occasionally fits part of what we do.  But, there’s an entirely different aspect of being a successful writer that is becoming more and more important for us to master if we wanna hit that best seller list, or even just share our stories with as many readers as possible.

I’m talking about marketing. Publicity. Getting your name out there. It’s a hat many feel uncomfortable wearing. But it’s definitely a fashion MUST if you wanna be on the cutting edge of discoverability—a new buzz word in our industry.

So today, we’ve invited the fabulous Regency romance author Valerie Bowman to the Firebird blog to pass along some of her marketing savvy. Valerie’s got her finger on the pulse of what authors—whether unpublished, newly sold, newly published or multi-published—wanna know about discoverability and marketing. She wears her marketing hat with flair. Or should I say a bonnet.

valeriebowman

Valerie is in the throes of marketing her latest book—Secrets of a Runaway Bride—released this month! Yet, she’s graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us and field any others you have throughout the day.

Welcome Valerie, it’s great to have you join us!  I always enjoy hearing fellow author’s “sold” story. Would you share yours with us? 

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today, Pris! My sold story is so fun! I was in New York City at the RWA Nationals conference in 2011. I happened to be in the room with two of my critique partners when I got the call. One of my CPs had a camera and she took pictures. So not only did I get the call when I was with the people who understood the most AND I have pictures, but I also sold on my BIRTHDAY! It couldn’t have been more perfect!

 

Many folks think that once you’ve sold the book, an author’s job is done other than editing, etc.  What are your thoughts on that idea?

Unfortunately, that’s not actually the case. Like it or not, an author is a not only an author but a sales person. There are many reasons why an author would want to help promote her books. Not only to increase sales but also to show her editor, agent, and publishing house that she’s on board and an active participant in her own success. I’ve just put together a new workshop called Painless Marketing for Busy Authors. I cover that idea in detail in my workshop.

 

 

What marketing ideas/tasks were you already doing before you sold?

Before I sold I had a website and I was on Twitter and FaceBook, but that was pretty much it. That’s enough for an unpublished writer, in my opinion. One invaluable thing that all pre-published writers should be doing, however, is meeting other authors and networking. That’s why going to the RWA National convention is a fantastic idea.

 

What’s your publisher’s role in your marketing/publicity?

St. Martin’s Press’s biggest role in my marketing is getting the books distributed to the big stores like Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, and other retail outlets. In addition, I work with my publicist, Aleks, to send out press releases, set up book signings, and do book giveaways. I work with my agent and editor to tweak my marketing plan and make it as strong as it can be.

 

Are there any resources/websites/etc.  you’d recommend?

There are many resources that are helpful for authors looking to promote. Some of my favorites include:

  • Author-Author.net – where you can buy copies of your books at cost. If you buy them here, you can sell them. You cannot sell your author copies from your publisher. Plus, they’ll count against your royalties.
  • Worldcat.com – tells you which libraries ordered your book
  • FreeBookFriday.com – a great website to get Twitter followers and Author Page likes for a minimal cost!
  • Novelrank.com – you have to sign up for this on release day but it tracks your sales
  • Ninth Moon – great promotional products for authors
  • AuthorCentral.com – Amazon sales tracking site. You can see your rank and sales but only for print books (unless you self-publish). Updated Friday mornings.
  • Tweetchat.com/hashtag – site where you can see all tweets related to a certain hashtag. My blog partners and I, www.DashingDuchesses.com, use this for our weekly Twitter chat.
  • Nielsen Bookscan – you can pay for a subscription to this and access it via RWA. It tells you which books are selling the most.
  • Publisher’s Marketplace – gives you all the book deal news.
  • Hootsuite – an application that can analyze when your Twitter followers are online the most. You can then schedule your promo tweets accordingly. You want to tweet about promotion sparingly.
  • Mailchimp.com – manages email subscriptions for newsletters. Free up to first 2,000 subscribers.
  • Vertical Response – an alternative to Mailchimp
  • Amazon Affiliates and Barnes and Noble Affiliates – programs where you sign up and use a special link back to your website for buy links. You get a percentage of the sale is someone purchases your book using that link.

 

What are your top To Dos for all writers when it comes to marketing?

  • Put up a website
  • Brand yourself. Come up with a tagline that will force you to think about your type of books and the reading experience that you’re selling. Be specific. Promote your brand, not just one book.
  • Get reviews wherever you can. Even bad reviews are good reviews. J Don’t spend money giving away a Kindle Fire or a $100 Amazon gift card. They people wanting that aren’t going to remember your name a year from now. Spend your money giving away copies of your books. The people who want to win your book, may actually read it and become your fan.
  • Understand that price matters. Even if you have a publisher who controls the price of your book, keep an eye on it. Sometimes the retailers will drop the price. You want to be ready to promote the book when that happens.
  • Read Vicky Dreiling’s blog for fantastic marketing and promotion tips. Vicky is a former corporate marketer and in addition to being a fantastic author, she really knows her stuff when it comes to promotion.
  • Ask yourself 1) Am I enjoying this promotional effort? 2) Can I afford it? If the answer is no to either of those two questions, don’t do it?

 

You’re a self-proclaimed introvert, yet you’re a fabulous speaker and have a great rapport with fellow writers and readers. What advice would you offer to fellow introverts out there when it comes to marketing and reaching out to readers?

My sister and I often argue about this because she insists I’m an extrovert while I insist I’m an introvert who is not shy. There is a difference. I actually draw my strength and recharge being alone and quiet. But my books are my business so I make it a point to step outside of my comfort zone when it comes to business. So much so that I recently agreed to be on a reality TV series, Say Yes to the Dress. But filming was a blast and I found a gorgeous dress!

My advice to other writers who are introverts would be to pretend you’re someone else if you have to. When you’re Author You, you are outgoing and never met a stranger. When you’re Regular You, you can be yourself. I actually find it easy because when I’m around other authors I’m so interested in talking to them and hearing what they have to say, that I suddenly turn into an extrovert. No wonder it confuses my sister! J

 

Thanks so much for the insight, Valerie! Let’s see what other questions our readers have for you.  

Thanks to the Firebirds for having me today! I’m happy to answer any questions about marketing or promotion that I can and am happy to share details of what I’ve done that’s seemed to work.

Readers… what’s on your marketing mind?

 

 

Valerie’s bio :

Valerie has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a minor in history from Smith College and has been writing valeriebowmancoverand editing professionally for over 15 years. She is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and a member of The Beau Monde, Regency special interest chapter.

Originally from Rantoul, Illinois, Valerie lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her rascally dog, Roo. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or watching Hoarders.

http://www.ValerieBowmanBooks.com

45 Responses to “Get your name out there! Marketing tips from Valerie Bowman”

  1. Thanks for having me on the blog today, FireBirds! I’ll be checking in periodically around some meetings I’m in today. Happy to answer any questions you have!

  2. Nicole Laverdure says:

    I’m not a writer but a book lover! I found Your tips quiet interesting for new writer. I totally agree that if an author can afford to give away her book, the lucky fan will discover her books and probably buy others! Great marketing tips! Valerie keep writing beautiful stories!

  3. Prisakiss says:

    Good morning, Valerie! Thanks again for joining us! I can’t wait to hear what my Firebird sisters and our readers ask you throughout the day!

  4. Ella Quinn says:

    Hi Valerie. Those are great tips. I agree about giving away books. They really get readers motivated. Good luck with this latest release. I tweeted.

  5. Valerie,

    What a great post!!! There is so much helpful information in here .. thank for taking the time to put it all into one great format!!

  6. You’re so darned organized. I’ve been running on the spaghetti principle myself.

    Question: Blog tours–how DO you come up with fresh ideas for your blogs?

  7. TamraBaumann says:

    Hi Valerie,

    Thank you so much for stopping by today! I was excited when Pris so wisely chose you to interview. I was one who watched your career blossom from a contest win to publication to one of my must read authors ;0)

    And I hear you on the introvert who isn’t shy. I am also one of those who find people so fascinating, especially writers, that I put my shy self away during RWA but it takes me a week to recover each year.

    Thank you for the resources list and marketing ideas. We appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us. And thank you, Pris, for a lovely interview!

    • Hiya Tamra! One of my favorite contest judges EVER! Thanks for stopping by. If you see my sister at Nationals, please tell her you understand the introvert who isn’t shy thing. She insists it’s me just trying to deny my extroversion. Ha!

  8. Terri Osburn says:

    I desperately need to know the answer to Ashlyn’s question, but I also have another. I’m a debut author with my first release hitting the streets in exactly five weeks. Do you have tips for a debut and do you have a game plan/time frame set up for the weeks right before a new release?

    • Hi Terri! Congratulations on the release! Best tips for a debut: GoodReads giveaway if you’re print, FreeBookFriday.com, and if you can afford it, a Fresh Fiction or Writerspace package. Great exposure! And don’t forget to network!

      • Terri Osburn says:

        Goodreads giveaway done, but I might do another one. Will check out the others. Good thing about being published with Montlake (Amazon imprint) is they ROCK the direct marketing. But it never hurts to do all I can too.

        Thanks!

  9. Excellent blog, thank you Valerie — and thanks, Pris, for making it happen and for a great interview. And what a perfect sold moment! How wonderful to be among people who totally get it.

    My question: you rightly say that reviews are crucial in getting momentum. I’m assuming here that you mean Amazon and Goodreads reviews. Any suggestion on how to help that along? I see friends with great books that are languishing with only a few Amazon reviews. Or do you feel like the review blogs are more important? (In which case, I imagine it’s simply a matter of contacting the reviewers and pitching your book.)

    • Hi Talia!
      Give away books via Twitter or Facebook or your website. When the winners contact you, ask them to leave a review if they enjoy the book and yes, GoodReads and Amazon are the two biggest places to get them.

  10. Great interview, Pris, and great tips, Valerie! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us.

    I’m a non-shy introvert as well, and I know what you mean about being excited to talk to other authors. One of my favorite parts of the writing life is meeting other writers and hearing their stories. Romance writers in particular are nearly always ready to help each other out and share their experiences. You’ve given us some great resources here–thank you!

  11. Thank you, Valerie, for sharing so much great information! Count me among those who have a burning need to know how to come up with fresh blog topics. :)

    • Hi Susan. It’s not easy. Another tip (in additon to my answer to Ashlyn above) is to jot down idea while you’re in editing. By the time you’re promoting that book, you’ll be writing 2 or 3 down the line and won’t remember the details. Keep a list while it’s fresh in your mind!

  12. Kay Hudson says:

    Great ideas, Valerie! I need to save that list of web sites–for the future. Right now I have a web site/blog, FaceBook and Twitter, and I can’t really keep up with them! Where can we find an extra hour or two for our days, or maybe an extra day of the week? Amazon? EBay?

  13. Sharon Wray says:

    This is absolutely wonderful, Valerie. I just wish I felt confident that all the information won’t change before I need it! And it’s always so wonderful to run into another Duchess in the “wild”. :)

  14. Robena Grant says:

    Lovely interview. Thanks for sharing this wonderful advice Valerie. Regarding your workshop, Painless Marketing for Busy Authors, will you present that at RWA National?

  15. Elisa Beatty says:

    Fabulous advice, Valerie!!! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve got this bookmarked for future use!

    You do indeed seem to have a knack for this.

    And I 100% understand the “not-shy introvert” thing. I’m another one who needs lots of solo time, but who really enjoys people too.

  16. Thanks for sharing! My debut, COMMAND PERFORMANCE is coming out in October 2013 from HQ Blaze and I’m looking for info on marketing and promo!

  17. Great advice, Valerie!

    And tell your sister you’re right — an introvert is someone who draws strength/peace from within. Large groups or frenetic situations pull that strength out of introverts, so they need alone time to recharge. (I’m one, so I know!)

    Are you giving your workshop at RWA National this year?

  18. Great blog, Valerie! Thanks for stopping by. I never thought of myself as an introvert until I heard it at Nationals last year…the thing about an introvert needing to slip away to her room for a recharge while the extrovert gets charged up hanging out in the corridors and at the bar. That’s me – unafraid to get up in front of a crowd, always interested in others and so on, but desperate to get away for just a bit here and there! I’m with the others, are you giving your workshop at RWA National this year?

  19. Thanks Pris and Valerie for a captivating blog. As an extra-not-shy introvert, I caught onto the bit about writing the tagline and branding yourself. I realise I haven’t done it. I know what I write, and why, but how to encapsulate in a couple of lines that’ll grab people. Hmmm.

    Natalie Meg Evans

    • Hi Natalie, Try to pick something that is descriptive of what you write and specific. Examples; Stories of love is not really specific enough. My tag line is Racy Regency Romps. In addition to being alliterative and fun, it provides a taste of what kind of book you’ll get if you pick up one of mine. Does that help?

      • Prisakiss says:

        Natalie, I’m feeling the same way– not sure if I have a tag line/brand. But hearing Valerie has really got me thinking about it. Something short, catchy and apropos to the type of book my readers can expect from me. It’s a bit intimidating to think about. :-)

  20. kd fleming says:

    Fabulous interview, Pris. And thank you so much for sharing all this amazing advice with us, Valerie.

    Wishing you all the best.

  21. Prisakiss says:

    Thanks to everyone who’s posted questions or comments today. I’m thinking Valerie will be able to pop in again to answer any new posts, so if you have any more burning questions, fire away before it’s too late. :-)

  22. Lots of great advice here. Thank you so much!

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